Fear attracts the fearful...
Fear. Fear is my ally."
Star Wars Ep. 1: The Phantom Menance
On March 3rd the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) put out it's monthly press release on sales.
Now, January and February have been dismal months for Greater Vancouver realtors. In fact, January was the slowest month is over 25 years with only 762 sales. February was better, but sales only totaled 1,480 - a decline of almost 50% from the year before.
So when over 9,700 members share 2,242 sales, it means REBGV realtors are on a pace to each see a commission cheque for one single housing sale once every 8 months.
Lean times indeed.
And what does the REBGV President, David Watt, have to say in his monthly press release to the media about the state of Real Estate in Vancouver?
He tries to use fear as a motivating tool to stimulate sales, of course.
"There are terrific opportunities out there right now, but with property listings continuing to decrease, those opportunities may be available only for a brief window of time”
Dave then goes on to warn, "Realtors are reporting more activity compared to recent months as people begin to see whether their position in the housing market has strengthened as a result of falling interest rates and improved affordability!”
In other words, buy now... quickly... before you miss out... buy now... opportunity is only here for a brief period of time. Buy now. Right now.
It has been an effectively leveraged tactic in Greater Vancouver Real Estate sales throughout the housing boom.
But not everyone agrees with the approach.
Larry Yatkowsky, a Vancouver realtor, hosts his own website titled Yattermatters. Yatkowsky seperates himself from most Vancouver realtors by being upfront with clients and potential clients. In an industry that guards sales data like nuclear secrets, Yatkowsky is one of the few who regularly shares data with the public.
He regularly offers snapshots of sales activity on the westside neighbourhoods in which he specializes, snipits which detail sales completed, listings, price reductions... it's all freely shared on Yatkowsky's website.
I suspect Yatkowsky does not attempt to close deals with 'fear'.
And what does he think of his Professional Association's recent attempt at fearmongering? In a March 3rd, 2009 post he said:
"Upon reading [Watt's] latest missive in the REBGV’s February Stats report the stench of fear mongering remained as residue. Upsetting is that Dave crosses a line of credibility by adding 'but with property listings continuing to decrease, those opportunities may be available only for a brief window of time'. Really! Are there 14,543 buyers ready to buy every residential property in Vancouver today?... This and other prognostications espoused in the last months [release] resemble deposits of overheated crap."
Yatkowsky then goes on to say, "Some may consider this declaration overtly sensitive - they are entitled. The contention is that the Vancouver real estate consumer is worn and tired of having these ignoble pontifications pronounced by industry leaders... Admitted is that Dave’s statements mechanically are true. However, they are fat with the power of fear and it is that fat with which exception is taken!"
"The words 'for a brief window of time' implies a do or die, buy or cry mandate. They are words that instill fear’s chill in many families who struggle to buy their first home. That cold draft flows through them with torment at the thought of not being able to afford a home if they don’t buy right now."
"Geez Dave, give the Vancouver real estate consumer a break! The implication of your words is stink. The words exude a ’sad devotion’ to the ol’ ‘better buy now or you are going to lose your ass mantra’. It is a chant that is out of tune in this market place. Today’s consumers will not tolerate being frightened by ’sorcerer’s ways’! Instead they will choose other paths in their real estate acquisitions. They will find those with tempered wisdom, not those that obfuscate truth with worn incantations."
"Look around Dave - there are hundreds who did exactly that which you propose. Now, wishing they had never purchased real estate you have to ask, will those consumers ever believe in us again?"
Larry Yatkowsky... telling it like it is.
He gets my vote for Realtor of the Year.